Once-beaten American heavyweight prospect Curtis Blaydes scored the most significant win of his career thus far in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday night, beating Mark Hunt via unanimous decision over three rounds in the co-main event of UFC 221.
If it wasn’t for his phenomenal chin, resiliency, heart, and composure, however, Blaydes wouldn’t have even made it out of the first round.
Halfway through that opening session, a counter right from the ludicrously heavy-handed Hunt reduced Blaydes’ legs to comedy props or “the Bambi legs”, as Tyron Woodley puts it in the video below. Hunt, renowned for his ruthless finishing ability, immediately pursued Blaydes, who tried to get away on his shaky stems but couldn’t evade the determined kiwi. Blaydes subsequently ate another right hand that sent him stumbling towards the cage. Yet another right hand followed shortly thereafter. This one was the cleanest punch of the lot and it dropped Blaydes to all-fours. Somehow, he returned quickly to his feet and, after ducking a left hook from Hunt, managed to take the fight to the floor.
Damn. @RazorBlaydes265 has a fucking chin
— Lando Vannata (@GroovyLando) February 11, 2018
Blaydes showed a lot of heart and an incredible chin to survive in the first round. Great win for him. #ufc221
— Matheus Nicolau (@NicolauMatheus) February 11, 2018
He was badly rocked, but man Curtis Blaydes has a chin on him. Those punches from Hunt would have starched many a heavyweight. #UFC221
— Simon Head (@simonhead) February 11, 2018
Desperation TD for Blaydes. He was rocked, badly. #ufc221
— The Spartan (@EliasTheodorou) February 11, 2018
After that, Blaydes decided not to take any risks. He had scored one takedown early, before his crisis, and a second to end that dramatic spell. He would go on to score another eight and dominate Hunt from top position for the rest of the fight, much to the chagrin of the partisan crowd at the Perth Arena.
In the end, all three judges scored the bout for Blaydes by wide margins.
The 26-year-old Blaydes is now 4-0 with one no-contest since he lost to Francis Ngannou via TKO due to a doctor’s stoppage in April of 2016 and 9-1 overall. Meanwhile, Hunt dropped to 1-2 in his last three fights and 13-12-1 with one no-contest overall.
You can watch highlights of the fight, including Blaydes’ first-round crisis below…
"There's never been a day that @RazorBlaydes265 decided to start wrestling…because he had the bambi legs, he found a way to finish it." — @twooodley on Blaydes TEN takedowns on Mark Hunt! #UFC221 https://t.co/vBRYHky2E1
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 11, 2018